Wizards-Jazz Preview

An untimely five-game losing streak has the Utah Jazz clinging

to dim playoff hopes. Hosting the dismal and short-handed

Washington Wizards should provide some brief relief.

The Jazz will try to avoid matching their longest slide of the

season beating the Wizards for a fifth consecutive meeting at

EnergySolutions Arena.

Utah (36-38) is 11th in the Western Conference, five games back

of Memphis for the eighth and final playoff spot with eight games

to play.

The Jazz have dropped into this precarious postseason position

thanks in part to a five-game skid that is one shy of their season

high set from Feb. 9-23.

They got closer to matching that Saturday, getting outscored

36-17 in the fourth quarter of a 94-77 loss to Dallas. Utah’s

scoring output in the contest was its lowest under Ty Corbin, who

has lost 15 of 16 since taking over for the retired Jerry

Sloan.

“One game, we come in and turn the ball over,” said forward C.J.

Miles, who had 16 points against the Mavericks. “One game, we just

can’t make a shot. One game, we just can’t stop anybody. It just

seems like we can’t put everything together at one time and it’s

tough to play that way.”

The Jazz have had little trouble putting things together against

the Wizards (17-55), winning 19 of the last 22 meetings in Salt

Lake City, including the last four by an average of 21.5

points.

Utah, however, lost 108-101 at Washington in the most recent

meeting Jan. 17.

Al Jefferson had 25 points and 10 rebounds in that matchup, and

has nearly matched that production over his last three games

overall. The forward-center is making 60.7 percent of his shots to

average 25.0 points with 10.7 boards while providing the Jazz with

a rare bright spot in that stretch.

The Wizards are one of three teams in the East to be eliminated

from playoff contention, and are a dreadful 1-35 on the road.

They’ve dropped 10 straight on the road and 10 of 11 overall,

and are trying to salvage the finale of this five-game road trip

after a 114-104 loss Sunday at Golden State.

“We’re not good enough,” coach Flip Saunders said. “That can be

frustrating. But that’s like if I run you in a race I’m going to

probably beat you all 10 times because you’re not as fast as me.

Same thing right now. We’re just young and not as talented as the

teams we’re playing.”

Getting a second road win will be more difficult without leading

scorer Nick Young. The swingman, who is averaging 17.6 points, sat

out the second half Sunday with a sore left knee and has been ruled

out for this game.

JaVale McGee, however, is coming off the best game of his

three-season career Sunday, scoring a career-high 28 points while

matching his personal best of 18 rebounds and adding five blocks.

He has averaged 21.0 points, 14.7 rebounds and 3.0 blocks his past

three games.